Saturday, January 22, 2011

CPP (NDF) denounces rushed arraignment of Ka Bart, denies AFP report of rescue attempt

CPP denounces rushed arraignment of Ka Bart,
denies AFP report of rescue attempt*

CPP Information Bureau
January 20, 2011

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today denounced the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for "its attempt to rush yesterday a 'midnight arraignment' of NDFP consultant Tirso 'Ka Bart' Alcantara."

"Ka Bart was rushed to the RTC Branch 59 yesterday for an instant arraignment in violation of his legal rights, as neither he nor his lawyers were informed of the schedule," said the CPP. Executive Judge Eloida de Leon-Diaz was, however, compelled to postpone the arraignment to March 1 after Ka Bart refused the services of a court-appointed lawyer.

"Obviously, it was an attempt to preempt an agreement for the release of Ka Bart and other NDFP consultants," said the CPP, referring to the January 15-18 preliminary talks between the negotiating panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Oslo, Norway. Part of the agenda of the preliminary talks was an NDFP demand for the release of Ka Bart and 12 other detained NDFP peace consultants in compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

Ka Bart, an NDFP consultant in the peace negotiations was arrested by military agents last January 4 in violation of the JASIG signed by the GRP and the NDFP in 1995. The JASIG protects duly authorized representatives of either side from surveillance, arrest and detention.

"The rushed court arraignment was a last minute attempt by diehard fascist and reactionary forces to block Alcantara's inclusion list of NDFP peace consultants to be released by the GRP," said the CPP. "They want to use the trumped-up cases filed in court against the NDFP peace consultants as arguments against their release."

The CPP welcomed the agreement between the NDFP and the GRP in preliminary talks where the Philippine government promised to work for the expeditious release of Ka Bart and 11 other consultants of the NDFP being detained by the military and police.

"In view of the recent agreement to work for the release of detained NDFP consultants, the Aquino government should immediately instruct the AFP and PNP to withdraw all trumped-up charges against Ka Bart and all other NDFP consultants, cease all court proceedings and desist from filing new cases against them," said the CPP.

Meanwhile, the CPP dismissed reports issued by the military that NPA members attempted to rescue him last Tuesday evening from detention. The AFP claimed that it arrested a certain Romulo Luna who was said to have gotten past sentry guards at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City carrying a hand grenade. Luna, who according to the military is a member of the NPA, was said to be casing the camp to spring Alcantara from prison. Luna was supposed to have the support of two others in his suppsed operation to free Alcantara, but they stayed outside the military camp and immediately fled after Luna was 'caught.'

The CPP laughed off at the AFP reports. "There was no such attempt to rescue Ka Bart from detention. The Luna tale is obviously a crude and lunatic concoction by the AFP to impugn the legitimate demand of the NDFP to have Ka Bart immediately released and cover up the continuing violations of his rights as a consultant of the NDFP for the peace talks."

The CPP asked the media and other interested parties to further investigate this military report.

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